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How hard is it properly to replace timing belt?


Will an independent mechanic who is not a frequent repairer of Honda/Acura have trouble, or do it badly?

This is a 6-cyl Acura and should also have balance belt, water pump, etc changed same time.

It is a lot of money. I want it done well, but I’d like to save a few hundred by avoiding dealer, etc.

The most recommended independent guy nearby is booked way ahead.

Can a pretty good general mechanic who lets me watch do this right?

Or does it require very precise work–such as re-setting the timing?

(This guy is nice, friendly, and responds to my suggestions, but delicate and precise do not describe him. And, of course, I do not know how to do this.)

Sure! Any good independent tech can replace the timing belts/water pump on your engine. I’ve done so many of these replacements I could do it in my sleep.


I have seen people have problems with cars like this at small independent shops because the mechanic didn’t understand that everything is backwards on a Honda/Acura. As long as you have a conversation with the mechanic and make sure he/she understands the differences, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Any competent mechanic can do this. The problem with working on transverse mounted engines is there’s not much room to work.

I would look for an independent who specializes in Honda/Acura. The guy who’s booked up is probably a good place to go. That’s why he’s booked up.

I’ve done several timing belt replacements on other vehicles (VW, Toyota, Subaru, Daewoo) with no problems, but when the belt on my Acura needed to be replaced I paid an independent specialist to do it.

I have a factory service manual. I read through the replacement procedure and decided it was more complicated than I wanted to get into. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s more complex than many other timing belt jobs.

How hard is it properly to replace timing belt?

About as hard as it is to improperly install it, maybe easier.


Thanks for all the comments. I see that they vary.

I also just found the following in a full review (of that exact year Acura RL) ON THIS WEB SITE. It says: "

This is a car that you definitely want to take to the dealer for service and maintenance. It’s a complicated vehicle; you’re not going to want your neighborhood mechanic trying to put a timing belt on the 3.5 RL.

If consumers would REJECT buying cars with these expensive maintenance nightmares built in, companies like Honda would stop making them. The $1200 (?) bucks you are spending now is money they booked as profit when they sold you the car…

Acura(recent) as you likely already know are nothing more than a glorified Honda Accord. This includes the engines.

If the mechanic has seen a V6 Accord(less of them) or Honda Odyssey he will be fully experienced in it. The V6 is nearly the same across Acura/Honda with tweaks.

Another vote for a truly experienced (in type) mechanic no matter what sleepy says.

If consumers would REJECT buying cars with these expensive maintenance nightmares built in, companies like Honda would stop making them.

I don’t know of ANY timing belt replacement that’s anywhere near $1200. Every vehicle I owned that had a chain…needed it replaced at about 250k miles. And a chain replacement is far far more costly then a belt…3-4 times the cost. Timing belts can be done by an decent shade-tree mechanic in a few hours…Most won’t even attempt a chain because of the extra labor involved. Now if you only keep your car 100k-150k then this isn’t an issue.